SINGAPORE: Sexual offences brought about by advances in technology such as voyeurism and “cyber flashing” will be criminalised from January next year, when amendments to the Penal Code take effect.
The changes were introduced under the Criminal Law Reform Bill, which was passed in Parliament in May.
As part of the Bill, a new category of sexual offences was introduced to better tackle cases including the making, distribution, possession of and access to voyeuristic recordings and intimate images, as well as the distribution of such images without consent.
A new offence of sexual exposure was also introduced to criminalise acts such as “cyber flashing", or the sending of unsolicited images of genitals over an electronic medium to another person.
Similarly, the act of doxxing will also be criminalised from Jan 1, 2020.
The new offence was introduced to criminalise the publication of personally identifiable information with the intention of harassing, threatening or facilitating violence against someone.
It was introduced as a new offence under proposed changes to the Protection from Harassment Act, which was passed by Parliament in May.
The authorities stressed that the intent of the person posting the information will be key in determining whether they had doxxed someone or not.
“The intention or knowledge of the person posting the information is key to the offence,” said the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) in a joint media release on Friday (Dec 27).
“The new offence does not stop people from legitimately sharing information, such as posting videos of an incident to give a factual account of the incident, or to seek help identifying the perpetrators of crimes.”
Other changes to the Penal Code will also kick in on Jan 1. These include harsher punishments for criminals who prey on vulnerable victims and young people, the repeal of marital immunity for rape and the decriminalisation of attempted suicide, among others.
Sexual offences involving the use of technology have increasingly come under the spotlight this year.
Earlier this year, National University of Singapore (NUS) student Monica Baey took to social media to speak out about a fellow student who had filmed her in a hostel shower.
The incident garnered huge public attention, and it led to NUS reviewing and revamping its policies towards sexual misconduct.
Last month, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) said the number of cases involving "technology-facilitated sexual violence" seen by its sexual assault care centre had more than doubled in the past three years.
Cases seen by the centre included actions such as taking images without a subject’s consent - for example through “upskirting” - as well as threats to carry out such actions.
Also making the headlines this year were Telegram chat groups involving scores of pornographic photos and videos, with an exclusive report by CNA last month detailing 13 such groups.
The authorities have also charged two men and two teenagers for their suspected involvement in disseminating pornographic content in another Telegram chat group, SG Nasi Lemak.